Friday, December 21, 2012

Jon Hammar, Marine jailed in Mexico, to be released from prison today


Jon Hammar, the U.S. Marine who has been in a Mexican prison since August on a dubious weapon charge is being released today, his father confirmed to

Jon Hammar Sr. said during a flight layover in Houston that he was on his way to get his son, after he and his wife Olivia received a call Thursday night from their attorney, Eddie Varon-Levy telling them their son was going to be released.

"I haven't seen it in writing yet but Eddie has confirmed it with the court that Jon is being released today," Hammar Sr. said. "The U.S. consulate said they would pick Jon up at the prison and accompany him to the border crossing."

Public fury over New Delhi gang rape sparks protest across India

Women participate in a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with a rape victim at India Gate in New DelhiThe gang-rape of a young woman in New Delhi has sparked public outrage across India, bringing thousands of people onto city streets in protest against authorities' failure to ensure women's safety. Sexual violence against women often goes unremarked and unreported in India, but on Friday hundreds of students and activists blockaded roads in New Delhi and marched to the president's palace, breaking through police barricades despite water-canon fire to demand the culprits' execution. ...

North Korea Says It Has Detained an American Citizen

The Associated Press

North Korea Says It Has Detained an American Citizen
New York Times
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Friday that it had charged an American citizen detained there with committing “hostile acts against the republic,” a crime punishable by years in prison, at a time when the United States is pushing for new ...
North Korea charges detained American with crime against stateAsahi Shimbun
NKorea says it has detained a US citizenHuffington Post
North Korea says it has arrested American citizenKTVQ Billings News

all 653 news articles »

We've Lost Syria - Huffington Post (blog)

We've Lost Syria - Huffington Post (blog):

The Voice of Russia

We've Lost Syria
Huffington Post (blog)
Since the Friends of Syria meeting last week, a conclave of countries convening in Marrakech, there's been a sad clarity to the state of U.S. policy in the Middle East. It's clear that we've already lost Syria. The U.S. played the wrong game in global ...
Russia won't try to persuade Syria's Assad to quit: LavrovReuters
Russian Speakers Become Prey in Syrian ConflictNew York Times
Syria refugee exodus verging on catastropheThe Voice of Russia
The Hindu -Al-Manar TV -Zee News
all 53 news articles »

Mich. student arrested after online teacher threat

Mich. student arrested after online teacher threat: WATERLOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 16-year-old student in southern Michigan was arrested Friday after authorities said he threatened a teacher in an online posting, the latest clampdown on unruly students in the wake of last week's Connecticut school massacre.

Cops: Teen said he'd shoot Pa. school, guns found

Cops: Teen said he'd shoot Pa. school, guns found: PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two handguns have been seized from the bedroom of a teen who threatened a shooting at his suburban Philadelphia high school a week after a mass killing at a Connecticut elementary school, police said Friday.

Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: How to avoid the traps of holiday weight gain

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens

We are watching our freedoms disappear before our own eyes. And no one seems to be able to stop it. Aren't the Republicans the party of freedom? And what about the left? Aren't they always ranting on about civil liberties and the threat from law enforcement? This President has not only adopted the Bush playbook but has surpassed his predecessor in attacking fundamental freedoms:

Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.

Not everyone was on board. "This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public," Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.

A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews with officials at numerous agencies, The Wall Street Journal has reconstructed the clash over the counterterrorism program within the administration of President Barack Obama. The debate was a confrontation between some who viewed it as a matter of efficiency—how long to keep data, for instance, or where it should be stored—and others who saw it as granting authority for unprecedented government surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans "reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information" may be.

Poll: Both Parties to Blame if Fiscal Cliff Talks Fail

Obama Administration Essentially Admits That Some Banks Are Too Big To Jail

We are going to find out what we should have learned in Obama's first term, he is an tool of big business. The failure to criminally prosecute any banker for the massive fraud of that bank is...criminal. More and more we are learning that Occupy Wall Street was right. The government rescued the banks for their criminality rather than prosecute them. The truth can no longer be covered-up:

One of the great things about being too big to fail is that you're also too big to jail, apparently.

So saith the Obama administration, via the New York Times, in its front-page story on Tuesday about HSBC's settlement with the government over money-laundering charges. Though the British banking giant had to pay a wrist-stinging $1.9 billion, the settlement helped it avoid formal criminal charges. The NYT quotes anonymous government officials who say they were skittish about indicting HSBC because formal charges would amount to a "death penalty" for the bank, potentially roiling the financial system.

This is at least three very specific flavors of bullshit.

Right-to-Work Laws Harm the Middle Class


States should not pass so-called "right-to-work" laws because they are a body blow to the middle class and undermine a state's economy. Unions are essential for building a strong middle class, yet right-to-work laws weaken unions by making them provide services without being paid for them—forcing certain workers to pay the costs of union representation for all workers.

And by harming the middle class, these laws hurt the economy because a strong middle class leads to additional business investment, greater entrepreneurship, more growth-enhancing public policy, and higher levels of trust that facilitate business transactions.

The evidence that 'right-to-work' laws harm the middle class is crystal clear... 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Study Shows a Pattern of Risky Loans by F.H.A.

Source: NY Times:

A new and extensive analysis of 2.4 million loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration in recent years shows a pattern of risky lending that could generate $20 billion in losses and harm thousands of the nation’s most vulnerable borrowers. By ignoring risks in loans it insured in 2009 and 2010, the study concludes, the F.H.A. is imperiling both borrowers and taxpayers who stand behind the agency.

The analysis emerged less than a month after the F.H.A.’s auditor submitted a troubling report on the financial soundness of its insurance fund. In mid-November, the auditor estimated that the fund, which backs $1.1 trillion in mortgages, has a value of negative $13.5 billion. In other words, if it were to stop insuring loans today, the F.H.A. fund could not cover the losses anticipated on loans it has already insured.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Mass Shooting in a Pro-Gun State

Will we ever learn. How many Americans have to die before we realize that allowing just about anyone to get a gun is suicidal. And when will we learn that the NRA owns the Congress and White House. And they don't give a damn about the lives of their fellow citizens. They want  to sell guns. And it doesn't matter who buys them:

Police say the man who opened fire in a suburban Portland shopping mall apparently killed himself after fatally shooting two people and wounding a third.

Clackamas County sheriff's Lt. James Rhodes says law enforcement who flooded the Clackamas Town Center in response to the afternoon shooting didn't fire any shots.

Witnesses described a scene of chaos and disbelief as a gunman wearing some sort of camouflage outfit and a white mask shot an initial burst of fire and then more rounds near the mall's food court.

Many shoppers fled and others hid in the backrooms of stores.

HSBC to pay $1.9B to settle money-laundering case

This leads to the obvious question: If corporations are people why isn't anyone going to jail?

HSBC avoided a legal battle that could further savage its reputation and undermine confidence in the global banking system by agreeing Tuesday to pay $1.9 billion to settle a U.S. money-laundering probe.

Europe's largest bank by market value will pay the biggest penalty ever imposed on a bank after facing accusations it transferred funds through the U.S. from Mexican drug cartels and on behalf of nations such as Iran that are under international sanctions.

Corporate Profits Hit Record High While Worker Wages Hit Record Low


A constant conservative charge against President Obama is that he is inherently anti-business. However, businesses keep defying the storyline by making larger and larger profits, rebounding nicely out of the Great Recession.

In the third quarter of this year, “corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6% from a year ago.” Corporations are currently making more as a percentage of the economy than they ever have since such records were kept. But at the same time, wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low, as this chart shows. (The red line is corporate profits; the blue line is private sector wages.):

CBO: Economic Recovery not Guaranteed

There is nothing to suggest that the economy will get better in the foreseeable future. We have a government and economy that is dysfunctional. Corporations are simply hording money and not investing in the economy. Workers are working longer hours for less pay. Assuming they have a job. This means no consumption. Which is essential to economic growth. Disaster only looms ahead:

One effect of the Great Recession was to massively widen the gap between the amount of wealth the economy could be producing and what it actually was producing. GDP production dropped almost $1 trillion from its pre-recession trend line, and between 2008 and 2011 the United States lost around $3.6 trillion.

CBO’s “current law” baseline, which assumes the nation goes over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” does not show a return to potential GDP until 2018. However, as the Economic Policy Institute noted yesterday, CBO’s predictions over the last three years have repeatedly pushed back the date of the recovery, suggesting there’s no guarantee it actually happens...

Video: Law prohibiting union agreements to pass in Michigan

Republican lawmakers in Michigan are pushing to pass a right-to-work law, which could have an impact in union-heavy states across the U.S. Elaine Quijano reports.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Man killed execution-style in Midtown Manhattan


Police are looking for a gunman who shot and killed a man in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan, CBS New York affiliate WCBS reports.

Authorities says a 31-year-old man was shot execution-style in the head just before 2.p.m. on 58th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue, just outside Central Park and close to the busy shopping center of Columbus Center.

As the man walked down the street, the gunman walked up behind him, pulled a silver pistol, and fired a single shot into the back of his head in front of 202 W. 58th St. The gunman then got into a gray Lincoln MKV that was waiting for him and drove off, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported.

"It was one shot, we all flinched. We all looked down the block. We didn't see nobody running from the scene. It was like the guy never existed," a witness told WCBS correspondent Dick Brennan. "Whoever did it got away clean."